Fictional Characters Who Need Therapy
November 16, 2010 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: fictional characters in need of therapy.

I have to write a paper applying a counseling theory to a television or movie character. What I'm looking for:

- a down-and-out female or minority or otherwise marginalized character who would benefit from the application of Feminist theory


- a character who's anxious who would benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy.

The only other criteria is that the movie would have to provide a pretty good background on the character.

posted by something something to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A: Precious

B: Woody Allen in any of his movies, ever.
posted by TurkishGolds at 12:03 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Coach Beiste from the TV show Glee might actually be an interesting, albeit unusual, choice for the first question.

Monk seems to be the obvious
choice for the second one.
posted by CharlieSue at 12:12 PM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Shouldn't your friend be doing their own homework? Seems to me a significant part of this assignment is selecting the the appropriate client ("the fictional character').
posted by Pineapplicious at 12:13 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

House - Narcissism
Monk - OCD
Det. Goren- Law and Order - manic depressive
Toby Ziegler/West Wing - father was a murderer
Tim Bayless from Homicide - molested by his uncle
posted by timsteil at 12:16 PM on November 16, 2010

I've seen the 'pathology of Winnie the Pooh' breakdown a number of places round the internet; Piglet is the anxious one there.
posted by heyforfour at 12:16 PM on November 16, 2010

The way I'd approach this assignment is to make a list of my favorite movies (or movies I've recently seen) and then pick a character from there — there are tons of female characters who would benefit from the application of feminist theory, and it'd be more interesting to choose a character I already like (and a movie I already have on DVD so I can rewatch relevant parts of it in detail).
posted by dreamyshade at 12:23 PM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

The writers for this season's awful installment of HBO's In Treatment?? (I kid!)

(In Treatment might make for interesting paper, tho. The main character Paul, played by Gabriel Byrne, is a therapist who specializes in more traditional talk therapy, and yet the guy could definitely benefit from a little CBT. He's so classically and willfully depressed.)
posted by jbenben at 12:24 PM on November 16, 2010

a character who's anxious who would benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy

The protagonist's anxiety and anger issues in Punch-Drunk Love are a major focus of the film, and are never really resolved.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:30 PM on November 16, 2010

The Bride of Frankenstein
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:03 PM on November 16, 2010

Wile E. Coyote
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:13 PM on November 16, 2010

Don Draper, especially in season 1.
posted by chicago2penn at 1:44 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Weather Man.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:48 PM on November 16, 2010

Tony Soprano for the second one. Seasons 1 & 2.
posted by johnofjack at 1:50 PM on November 16, 2010

Dr. House, from the show "House".
posted by wansac at 2:04 PM on November 16, 2010

B) George Costanza / Larry David?
posted by booth at 2:08 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pepe le Pew really needs to get his narcissism looked at, but probably lacks the insight to seek help.
posted by tel3path at 2:14 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

You are Harry Potter from "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

You know the Dark Lord has returned. You've seen him. He killed Cedric Diggory right in front of you. Yet a great number of the populace refuses to believe you. You're constantly angry, lashing out at your friends.

(Eventually, you take matters into your own hands and form a secret society within Hogwarts, enlisting others for what you're certain will be a future battle).
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2010

Oh, feminist theory: Detective Olivia Benson from SVU. Her mom became an alcoholic after she was raped and became pregnant with Olivia; the mom hated Olivia.

She's been in therapy for one episode a bunch of times, but "somehow" it never sticks - she's not anxious, but maybe CBT would get her out of some self destructive patterns? For instance, she always blames herself for her mother's death, even though she knows she shouldn't.

Second, she has kind of a superwoman complex when she meets victims who are either the children of rape or who have a child that's the result of a rape. And to a lesser extent, when someone's an alcoholic. Right now, she's the legal guardian of a kid whose drug addicted mom is a child of rape -- Olivia originally thought they might be sisters and took the case too personally.
posted by lesli212 at 2:48 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by platinum at 2:57 PM on November 16, 2010

B) Gollum
posted by Namlit at 3:15 PM on November 16, 2010

Response by poster: These answers are making me wish I was writing the paper. I love Harry Potter & Gollum.
posted by something something at 3:16 PM on November 16, 2010

Walter White
Tony Stark
posted by micklaw at 3:25 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tony Soprano was mentioned upthread, but surely it's Carmela who could benefit from the application of some feminist psychoanalytic theory?
posted by HandfulOfDust at 3:57 PM on November 16, 2010

Well, in the Whedonverse, there's (at least) Faith, Angel, Spike, Wesley, Mal, River, Topher, DeWitt, and Dr. Horrible - he's surprisingly stable in comparison to the others.

I've often thought that Spock, in every incarnation, has managed to be remarkably therapy-worthy for a man who supposedly specializes in mastering emotions. Honorary mentions go to Trip, T'Pol, everyone named Crusher, Picard (especially after "The Best of Both Worlds," and after the events in "Generations," and every movie after that,) Q, Janeway, Seven of Nine, Harry Kim, Benjamin Sisko, Worf, Bashir, Kira, Odo, and actually, just the entire cast of DS9. Kirk could use it but wouldn't go. Janice Rand could stand some feminist something, in the Original Series time period.

Everyone on Lost and everyone on Babylon 5. No exceptions. Not even the dog.

Boromir. Boromir Boromir Boromir Boromir. Faramir Faramir Faramir. And their awful, awful father. And the entire Elf community. One feels compelled to leave out those existing in a state of pure hellish energy, yet I feel Sauron could have benefited from early intervention.

Star Wars: Anakin freaking Skywalker. And he's the only one who can beat out Amidala. Prequel Yoda is actually beyond help, though long-term isolation appears to have stabilized him enough to make passably acceptable decisions by the time of Empire. Don't get me started on Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. Gah.

Every Disney villain, but especially Ursula and Gaston. A few neurotic types (Mike from Monsters, Inc.; Sebastian from the Little Mermaid, Cogsworth from Beauty & the Beast) could stand some help, as well.

Jack O'Neill, Sam Carter, Jacob Carter, Teal'c, Daniel Jackson, everyone on Atlantis, everyone on Universe.

I believe that going through the collected works of Hugh Grant may also be a fruitful exercise.

And, every Doctor. In his own unique way. Especially Nine. Oh, and Ten.
posted by SMPA at 4:22 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ah, SMPA prompted another idea from me - Eowyn for another fruitful feminist theory paper. People have been having the is she or isn't she a feminist/strong character forever -- but I would love to see a psychoanalytical spin on it. Whether you consider her a feminist or not, it's impossible to deny her depression and oppression.

Quoth Gandalf: "If [Eowyn's] love for [her brother Eomer], and her will bent to her duty had not restrained her lips, you might have heard even such things as [wormtongue's criticisms of rohan] escape them. But who knows what she spoke to the darkness in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?"

(i know wormtongue says it to eowyn in the movie, but it makes more sense that gandalf makes this observation about eowyn, not to her. Also she's a much more 21st century character in the movies, and I think the book Eowyn would make a more interesting paper)

I love this paper topic, too! If possible, could you give info on the professor or class? I'd love to know what else they're doing.
posted by lesli212 at 5:25 PM on November 16, 2010

I think the entire cast of characters on Arrested Development could benefit from some help.

posted by dzaz at 5:44 PM on November 16, 2010

Well, why didn't I think of it. Elmer Fudd, obviously, for the anxious type.

And Wyle E Coyote has a nice bunch of conditions going on, and anxiety might be behind it all.

a down-and-out female or minority or otherwise marginalized character who would benefit from the application of Feminist theory

Maleficent from sleeping beauty. It's a tricky target, because the ability to do magic is a somewhat loose fit for feminist theory, but there you are. Lots of special traits. Holds herself separate in a lonely castle. Leaves castle in the disguise of a dragon with a school-bus-shaped snout [what - ]. Seeks the company of a raven with an inane grin. Keeps lots of men-like characters in her castle but does nothing with them apart from bullying. Hates everything female and beautiful. Go on.

Otherwise I have always been fascinated by the unknown character behind the pair of legs in the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons. But apart from her occasional cat-educational excesses, sleep attacks, cleaning frenzies, and her well-stocked fridge, we don't get much of a background.
posted by Namlit at 5:45 PM on November 16, 2010

I see your Elmer Fudd and I raise you Elmyra Duff. Why is she so obsessed with nurturing animals, despite their protestations? Is she a future abusive mother? What does it say about Elymra and gender issues such that the female version of Elmer Fudd is not an incompetent hunter, but rather a corrupt nurturer?

posted by Sticherbeast at 6:21 PM on November 16, 2010

Bella from Twilight.

I can't find it right now, but I read a good feministy essay arguing that any mature woman who found the entire Twilight theme even the tiniest bit emotionally appealing could only possibly be clinically psychologically fucked up.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:37 PM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Late to the party, but Lois Griffin and Marge Simpson. Probably couples' counseling for them both!
posted by motsque at 7:47 AM on November 17, 2010

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